Monday, November 11, 2013

Teen Challenge : Abuse Continues

Teen Challenge - Abuse Continues

The Teen Challenge teen residential drug treatment program has been accused of all manner of abuse and only exists because of deregulation of these facilities Governor George W. Bush who pushed through legislation that would exempt Teen Challenge and other faith-based drug treatment centers from state licensing and the health, safety and quality of care standards that accompany that licensure.  These Teen Challenge centers have close ties to Melvin Sembler, the Drug Free America Foundation, Straight Inc. and the New Freedom Commission. 
Teen Challenge is a national faith-based residential drug treatment program that had nine branches in Texas in 2004. The programs have no medical component and center instead of around prayer, Bible study and religious conversion. Teen Challenge currently operates five drug treatment centers in Texas – none of which have a state license, but only two of which have formally registered their status as a faith-based facility exempt from state licensing. As exempt faith-based drug treatment centers, Teen Challenge facilities are not required to have licensed chemical dependency counselors, conduct staff training or criminal background checks, protect client confidentiality rights, adhere to state health and safety standards, or report abuse, neglect, emergencies and medication errors.  Even prior to seeking an exemption from state licensing, a 1995 state inspection revealed that Teen Challenge was not compliant with numerous state health, safety and quality of care standards.  Teen challenge was linked with extreme coercive tactics and abuse and it was a known recipient of federal funds under the “Faith Based Initiatives” program.
In addition to unlicensed counselors hired at the Teen Challenge facilities, in one Teen Challenge facility in Maine a known child molester became manager of a Teen Challenge facility.  There have reports of educational neglect (educationally insufficient material) and reports of physical, mental, sexual, and emotional abuse.  There were many reports of abuse including forced missionary activity, possible violation of child labor laws, and forcing people to sign over paychecks to Teen Challenge. Texas is also, sadly, not the only state that Teen Challenge was given acarte blanche in.  Florida has a nearly identical scheme to the one Texas had until recently, in that centers can be completely exempted from regulation by joining the Florida Association of Christian Child Caring Agencies--and Teen Challenge happens to be a member of FACCCA.
"I'm hoping that Teen Challenge will not have to go through the licensing procedures that clinical organizations have to go through."
-- John Castellani,  the Assemblies of God "Mission America" meeting in 2000 
John Castellani was the Executive Director of Teen Challenge, a "faith-based" drug rehab program owned by the Assemblies of God  denomination and well-known for years for fudging its success rate figures.  (   
George W Bush's "faith-based" initiative  was used to fund religious "outreach" ministries to escape the scrutiny to which nonreligious organizations must conform to get federal funding.   This "faith-based" plan is ultimately geared toward bringing greater financial power to groups which seek to criminalize abortion.

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